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I am a self-confessed altoholic, of the worst kind.  Some players roll new characters with a specific aim in mind – to provide a guild healer, to get the best racial/profession combination, so fulfill some kind of perceived need.

I just roll alts because I lack focus. Yes, I have a raid-geared shadow priest but I don’t devote as much time to it as I should because I keep getting distracted. My log-in page is littered with low-to-mid level characters strewn willy-nilly across four servers – and I have deleted many more.  And still I have the urge to try some new race/class combination.

This is partly due, I think, to a basic curiosity to find out how the different classes work, but its more than that.  I still get great pleasure from choosing features, hair-styles, skintone etc, and I have been known to spend hours choosing a name that feels ‘right’ for the new addition to the flock.

The trouble is that I lack stickability; because I know that I don’t have the movement skills necessary to play a hunter well, I tend to abandon hunters at around level 40.  I have a mage at level 55 who hasn’t been touched since Cata because I wanted to try the new starter areas. My most successful current alt, a druid, reached the dizzy heights of lvl 59 – but then I did some reading about high level moonkin eclipse mechanics and had second thoughts.

My first ever wow character was a paladin – and I was awful. In the delusional hope that my melee skills have magically improved over the last couple of years, I recently rolled another ( a dwarf, because her pigtails twirl when she casts – I’m easily amused)  and I’m having great fun, but I doubt I will ever get to lvl 85 with her.

And then there are my adventures on the ‘other side’ – my heart is with the Alliance but I just had to go & see the Horde starter areas too.  So along came an Undead mage (didn’t last long, hated it), a Tauren paladin (love the lore but too big & clumsy), a Blood Elf….something (too like a teenager for my taste) and a Goblin priest (cute but not compelling enough).

I’m sure there will come a day when I’ve had enough of starter quests, or I run out of un-tried races and classes, or I just can’t face one more run through Gnomeregan, but until then curiosity and a scatter-gun approach is what keeps my play-time interesting.  Perhaps one day I will be able to delete a character without a twinge of guilt, and that’s when I will know that my ‘family’ of alts is complete, and maybe, just maybe, some of them will live to see the ice-bergs of Northrend on the horizon.

 

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A combination of guild drama and some real-life drama between a couple of my in-game friends has set me wondering about the tangled intertwining of real people and their avatars.  I recently learned, indirectly, that I am not regarded as a ‘real person’ by someone I have played with regularly for the past year.  In theory, I suppose this is how it should be – we are after all in a ‘roleplaying’ game.  But I was surprised, nevertheless.

Many of my long-term guild-mates have divulged enough information to give me at least an idea of the person behind the character, and it is almost always the human being that I feel in contact with.  Obviously, when meeting non-guild characters, in random groups or while questing, the first contact is with the character – but any extended conversation will generally include some snippets of information about the player.

I do wonder if the disconnect some players feel between character and player is a generational thing.  Maybe younger people spend so much time interacting via tweets, Facebook pages, text messages etc. that they lose all sensitivity to the nuances of actual human contact.  Yes, I play a character alongside other characters, but I have a real interest in the people behind the characters I know well.

I am aware that people are capable of lying about themselves – often to fulfill some sexual fantasy, but I don’t believe this is as widespread as some sensational reports would have us think.  I play on an EU server, from what I have read the US servers seem rather more dangerous in this respect.

I have posted before about some of the problems of communication in the player-base – the WoW community, while far from perfect, has not yet reached the level of toxicity of the xbox crowd.  And a lot of the unpleasantness comes from this same disregard of the person behind the character.

I am not drawing any conclusions here, merely musing on something which interests me.  For me, the people I play with are, in fact, people.  For others, it seems that is not the case – I feel that is their loss, but it could be that I am out of step with a game which is, after all, not designed for slightly over-sensitive elderly women.

 

I Have Returned !

I can’t quite believe its a whole year since my last post – and what a bumpy year its been!  I am, of course, still playing WoW, but almost everything in my gaming life has changed.

My much-loved guild fell apart during my enforced absence due to PC problems, largely due to the machinations of one rather unbalanced individual, friends I have played with for many months have quit the game, and of course the game itself is now very different.

So I am no longer a GM.  This has been a source of both sorrow & relief; sadness because my guild was ‘my baby’ and, yes, I enjoy being in charge of things.  Relief because I now have more freedom to just play the game entirely as I wish, with no responsibilities beyond normal officer duties in a casual guild.  And relief also in the knowledge that nothing in the game is ever likely to cause me so much hurt in the future.

The guild I am in now, which also includes many of my closest ingame friends, is proving to be a really good place to be.  I know some guilds are having trouble with recruitment, in part due to the guild levelling system, but we have had a steady influx of new people at all levels.  Our latest recruits are a group of friends who have seen the light and returned to Azeroth from a trip to play Rift.  Their experience will help our fledgling raid teams along, and I hope they are finding their return worthwhile.

I have taken my first steps into raid healing – first because it was what was needed in the team, but now because I actually enjoy it.  Its a steep learning curve, and I can’t pretend to be proud of some of my efforts, but with the support of my guild-mates, I hope I can learn and improve.

I will no doubt have more to say about the general state of the game as I see it – but for now, I shall continue to muddle along to the best of my abilities, picking up random achievements, and adding to my ever-growing list of alts. Of which, more in a later post.

 

 

The impending changes to the world of Azeroth have set me thinking.  I now live in a small market town, with shops, doctors, etc. etc.  But for many years I lived in the heart of the countryside, outside a small village, with only one (poorly stocked) shop within reach.  I hated it.  I got depressed; my then husband was working away from home, I could not drive, and had to walk miles every day to get my sons to & from school.

And yet…and yet, there were summer days by a stream, accompanied by cat, dog & pet sheep, watching improbably bright dragon-flies zipping over the water.  There were autumn days, heavy with mist & spiders’ webs, spent picking apples, blackberries, rosehips.  These days more than made up for the days spent cut off from the world by flood-water, or days when the world just seemed a very dark place.

The point I’m trying to make is:  on your travels around the old world of Azeroth,  lift your eyes from the mini-map sometimes and just look at what is around you.  Yes, certain areas are tedious to level through and need to be changed, but they all have their own peculiar beauty, and deserve to be remembered with respect.

Gogogo….rez pls

I’ve been seeing a lot on various wow-related sites lately about the general unpleasantness in random dungeon groups, and given my experiences over the last couple of days I have to say I think that behaviour is getting worse.  A few months ago, I lvled my shaman largely through the dungeon finder, & had very few bad groups. Not all successful, but good humoured. However, my priest is now lvl 51, and having to run Blackrock (prison) and Sunken Temple.

In the last 2 days, I’ve had one group where the tank & melee dps were obviously half-way through an argument which continued until their lack of attention got us all killed, complete with appalling language and personal insults.  In another group, the tank was fully kitted out in heirlooms and ran straight into a higher level part of the instance – ‘I’m just doing this for rep’ – resulting in the healer being unable to cope, and another wipe.

In neither of these groups was there any party chat at all, not even ‘hi’. In one case the tank was yelling for buffs as he was charging towards the first pack of mobs, and then yelling some more when a slightly confused paladin couldn’t keep up. This sounds as if I have a grudge against tanks – I don’t, but I do think that the tank can set the tone for the whole run.  To be fair, the ‘gogogo’ often comes from an over-geared healer or ranged dps – but no matter who it comes from, its inconsiderate to party members who may have never done the instance before, or who have quests to complete.

In the dungeons at this level, a wipe almost always leads to people leaving the group, as it is so hard to find your way back in again, and frankly if the group is unpleasant it’s not worth the bother of trying.  Chances are, you’ll be back in the same dungeon by the time your res sickness has worn off.

So if I could make one plea to players using the LFG tool, it would be this: start slowly, speak to party members, and don’t bring lvl 80 attitudes to lower levels. Its not big and its not clever – try using less ‘war’ and more ‘craft’.  If randoms annoy you, why do them? Surely if you’re that great, your guildies will want to run with you? No?

Sparklehorses

I have been surprised by how few Celestial Steeds I have seen on my server.  Those that do appear seem to be generally ignored, in spite of some players’  best attempts to attract attention.  I have mixed feelings about the whole ‘mounts for money’ thing. Yes its nice that they bind to account so you never have to pay for a mount for a new character; but its the riding skill which really costs, and that still has to be bought.

And really, the horse just doesn’t look that great, especially on the ground. But at least they don’t clog the place up like mammoths, which seem to have a mail-box fetish, judging by the time they spend parked on top of them.

So, I will not be buying a sparkly horse….no I won’t.  My shaman will just have to put up with her elekk until I grind enough rep for something else.  I am apprehensive though – the vast amount of money generated by the sale of this mount must be giving Activision much food for thought.  And I worry how long Blizzard will be allowed to stick to their principles.

The day they start selling anything that has a real impact on the game, thats the day I go back to the sudoku.

A Whole New World

I got really fed up with the server I was playing on – the starter areas were deserted, and the trade channel was full of people looking for pug raids, with all the associated ‘link gs/ach’.  5-man random heroics were being run by seriously over-geared raiders, and there seemed to be no place for a casual, non-gear-obsessed, low confidence player.

I was invited by a friend to try out a new realm which had recently been changed from PvP to PvE, with a consequent exodus of a lot of high-end players. Out of curiosity, I rolled a priest there to try it out – and what a difference!  Loads of new players in the starter areas, no gearscore spamming in trade, and no lag in Dalaran. I absolutely loved it.

Of course, there was a lack of guilds as many had transferred to another PvP server;  and I had the foolish idea of starting my own guild, aimed primarily at new players.  And so ‘All Things Considered’ was born.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the numbers of people who wanted to join – both new players and experienced players who, like myself, wanted a fresh start in a more social realm.

To give the fledgling guild some funds, I paid to transfer my lvl 77 shaman to the new server; unfortunately I could not afford to move all my alts, so my paladin, hunter & warlock are languishing on my old server and may never see much action.

And so, to quote Whitesnake, ‘here I go again, on my own’…..well not entirely. In the space of 3 weeks, the guild has grown to 140 members – a mixture of levels, classes, abilities, and nationalities.  Being a rather inexperienced guild leader, I am still getting to grips with the organisational side of things – I know I need to appoint more officers, and devise guild events to keep the Warcraft experience fun for all the members.

It has all taken a lot of my time, but on the plus side I am making new friends, learning as I go, and enjoying the game more than I have for several months.  And the priest?  She is now almost lvl 50, shadow specced, and I am finding it immensely satisfying to fry the brains/melt the faces of anyone in my way.  My hope is that the guild will be a strong, stable unit when Cataclysm launches, with all the changes for guilds which will follow. So far, all things considered, we’re doing pretty well.

Hello world!

Well this is exciting!  After some nice responses to my posts on http://www.mmorpgguide.co.uk, I have decided to jump in with both feet & create my own blogsite.  I have no idea how it will turn out – but I do know who I would like to reach.  I play World of Warcraft, which is an unusual hobby for someone my age, I know, but I am not unique.   I am sure there are others like me out there, and I would love to build a community for those who are taking their first stumbling steps into a world of infinite possibilities, but which sometimes feels alien and unfriendly.

So, why do I play?  Well, I became hooked after spending hours watching my son play.  It seemed to me that Wow did not demand the lightning reflexes of many console games, but neither did it offer the mind-numbing repetition of so-called ‘brain-training’ games.  It allowed me to play at my own pace, it fuelled my imagination, and helped with the social isolation I felt after taking early retirement from my job.

In short, I had found something to do which stimulated my brain, expanded my world, and, in a roundabout way, greatly improved my computer skills.  And it certainly beats sudoku for entertainment value!

So, if you have ever thought of trying an online game, if you have questions you are afraid to ask anyone else, or if you are one of the  ‘oldies’ already playing, I would love to hear from you.